I have made assisting seniors my life's work. They remain one of the most vulnerable populations across the globe, so I am hopeful that on this National Senior Citizens Day—Saturday, 8/21—you will take a moment to recognize the significance of supporting seniors in our society.
If anything, the past year has laser-focused our understanding that life is precious – no matter your age. But also, we must honor our seniors' contribution and dedication rather than allow them to languish or be forgotten. That is simply not who we are as a country or as people.
By 2025, the experts estimate that there will be over one billion people over 65, and this group's share of the total population will rise from 16 percent to 23 percent. Plus, the older population is becoming more racially and ethnically diverse; between 2018 and 2060, the non-Hispanic white population is projected to drop from 77 percent to 55 percent. These are all things that we need to take into consideration as we plan ahead to ensure the needs of the older generation are met. And not simply met, but that these seniors experience the best time of their lives.
What is National Senior Citizens Day?
There seems to be a day for everything now, but way before the Internet and social media, President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation declaring the holiday in 1988. August 21st is intended to be a day to honor adults over the age of 60 for all they have achieved throughout life and for all they continue to accomplish. As President Reagan said in his address when he made the proclamation, "We can best demonstrate our gratitude and esteem by making sure that our communities are good places in which to mature and grow older — places in which older people can participate to the fullest and can find the encouragement, acceptance, assistance, and services they need to continue to lead lives of independence and dignity."
How Aegis Fits In
At Aegis Living, we have a mission that is bigger than any one of us. We find happiness and success together in making a difference. That difference manifests through our senior living communities by providing assisted living, memory care, and respite care for seniors.
Aegis Living's Life Enrichment program creates opportunities to cultivate friendships, learn new skills, and stay active. We understand that most people want to make a meaningful impact, and we know how to have a lot of fun along the way. We see our facilities as a new beginning rather than an unsettling ending.
This is a very personal endeavor for me, and it has always been my mindset that senior living leadership should be unconventional, unafraid, open to new ideas, and to be people-centric. We need more innovative leaders in our industry, and National Senior Citizens Day is a perfect opportunity to open your eyes to this niche industry.
Whether you're looking for a career path or simply want to participate on August 21, 2021, there are numerous ways to become involved to show your appreciation of our senior citizens. Most often, simply having a conversation with the older individuals in your life and recalling important memories or family history can make a great impact. Life’s lessons are often the best teacher. You can also become a pen pal with a senior living resident, helping them engage with the world while valuing their perspective and reminiscing. Everyone has a story.
In addition, you can visit a nursing home or residential facility. Enjoy a meal with a senior or ask to see some of their favorite photos. You can even work with a local organization to plan an event or bring in some form of entertainment. Staying young at heart is so important for seniors.
Last year, as lockdowns became the norm around the world, I founded the Seattle Seniors Strong initiative. Seattle Seniors Strong is a combined effort by some of Seattle and King County's most engaged charities and corporations who realize that homebound and homeless seniors were one of the hardest hit groups during the Coronavirus pandemic. Together with the community, we raised $322,000 for two amazing Seattle-based charities focused on helping seniors make it through those extraordinary circumstances.
Familiarize yourself with elder law and the latest federal and state regulations that impact seniors. Consider a career in senior care; there are several different avenues as well as certifications and training opportunities. You can become a licensed Home Health Aid, work at a Hospice, or get into the business side or senior living. The education or training doesn't have to be costly, but rather reputable and effective. You could also simply be trained in first aid and CPR to ensure that you stand ready to help someone that may find themselves in distress.
Really, just find a way to celebrate the seniors in your life. Seek to understand their journey so that it may help to inform your own. Since I founded Aegis Living over 20 years ago, I have learned from the wisest and most simple, from the bravest and most adventuresome, from those impaired by hereditary diseases, from brilliant inventors and successful investors, and from the most loving and humble teachers, scholars, and public servants. You may not be able to predict how you die, but you can shape the way you live.
Today, take some time to not only shape the way you live but give back to those that have been pioneers so that you can live the way that you choose.